Adolescence has been kind to Mendocino Farms, the high-end fast-casual sandwich concept that turned the industry's head while in the startup stage. Featuring high-caliber sandwiches abounding in fresh ingredients, the brainchild of a California husband-and-wife team generated high volumes and a loyal following. Then Big Corporate stepped forward with a bulging sack of money. TPG Capital, the private-equity behemoth that once owned Burger King, bought the concept from co-founders Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen and their backer, the smaller private-equity whale L Catterton. Del Pero was replaced as CEO by a seasoned chain builder, Harald Herrmann, most recently of Darden Restaurants. Competitors wondered if corporatism would wreck the boutique-y brand. But after about two years inside the TPG fold, the modern-day Mendocino seems indistinguishable from its entrepreneurial form. Instead of cranking out units, the TPG-owned chain has added only about 10 stores, and sales appear to be as strong as ever.

2018 Systemwide Sales ($000,000)$38*
YOY Sales Change31.1%
2018 U.S. Units24
YOY Unit Change41.2%
2018 Average Unit Volume ($000)$1,875*
Future 50 Year2019

*Technomic estimate

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